What possesses someone to run more than 100-miles in one outing?
On May 13, Bill Abel, Engineer for Mid-States Concrete Industries, started running the 108-mile Cruel Jewel 100. The out and back run began at Vogel State Park in Blairsville, Georgia. Participants ran through the Chattahoochee National Forest of the North Georgia Mountains to Camp Morgantown in Blue Ridge, Georgia, then back to the beginning. Bill began at noon on Friday and finished at 9:40 p.m. on Saturday. It only took 33 hours and 40 minutes.
“The worst part is there was roughly 33,000 feet of going up and roughly 33,000 feet of going down,” Bill said, adding toward the end of the run, downhill was a challenge.
Bill started running in high school because his dad was a runner. Before long, Bill was running marathons, but soon grew bored with them. So, he attempted a 50-mile race and after completing that, he figured he might as well try a 100-mile race.
In 2012, Bill completed the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. This and the Hardrock 100 are two of the most well-known endurance runs in the country. The Cruel Jewel is a qualifying race for the Hardrock 100, so Bill will enter the lottery for a chance to run that race. Though he claims once he runs the Hardrock 100, his racing days are over, even he has skepticism in his voice when he says it.
“You just keep going,” Bill said of long distance runs. “There’s nothing really magical, you’ve just got to keep going, keep going, keep going… You will have some very low lows in the race, but you’ll come out of them eventually.”
Roughly every five miles along the Cruel Jewel route was an aid station/rest stop. At these stops, runners could get water, food and any first-aid needed, while taking a short break from running. In addition to fruit and water, many of the stations also offered heartier choices, like soups, sausage and grilled cheese sandwiches. Unfortunately, items weren’t always clearly labeled. Bill chugged a cup of pickle juice, thinking it was Mountain Dew when he grabbed it.
Not much of a “running eater,” Bill drank nearly 500 ounces of water (that’s 31.25 pounds!) throughout the race. While running, and sometimes walking, Bill listened to podcasts, texted and did some deep thinking.
“I solve all the world’s problems along the way,” Bill said. “(But), I don’t remember the solutions.”
Oftentimes, these long runs are more about finishing than they are about time, and the mental struggle can be tougher to get through than the physical activity. Bill has learned how to push through a run and that has carried over into other aspects of his life as well. He now knows how to stick things out, find his rhythm and get a task completed. After all, no one can run a race for you, except you.